Bruins win in shootout, snap losing streak

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Bruins win in shootout, snap losing streak

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A late game-tying short-handed goal, a rookie stepping up, and a composed backup goalie filling in for one of the best in the game all have the Boston Bruins confident they can get back to winning.

With starter Tom Thomas resting, Tuukka Rask made 34 saves and stopped all three Columbus attempts in the shootout, and rookie Tyler Seguin scored the lone shootout goal to lift the Bruins to a 3-2 win over the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.

The win ended the Bruins' season-worst four-game losing streak.

"Definitely, it was one of his biggest and best games of the year," Boston coach Claude Julien said of Rask. "He was very poised and I thought he did a great job in the shootout."

Seguin, the No. 2 selection in the 2010 draft, didn't shy away from his opportunity, either. He confidently faked Steve Mason with a left-to-right move and scored inside the right post.

"I felt great," said Seguin, who was scratched the last two games. "It's definitely nice to get back in the lineup and contribute to the team."

David Krejci and Rich Peverly - who tied it with just over 5 minutes left on an impressive individual effort - scored regulation goals for Boston, which won the 2,800th game in the history of the 87-year-old franchise.

"It was nice to see that even though they took the lead in the third we found a way to get back into it," Julien said. "It was a big goal there by Peverly, the short-handed goal."

The Bruins, who won in Columbus for the first time since 2003, entered as the third seed in the Eastern Conference, only two points ahead of Northeast Division rival Montreal.

Grant Clitsome and Scottie Upshall scored for Columbus, which blew two one-goal leads and has lost eight of nine, all but falling out of playoff contention in the West. Mason finished with 27 saves.

"We're as happy as you can be without getting two points," Blue Jackets rookie coach Scott Arniel said. "I said to the coaches that was one of our best games in probably two or three weeks."

Both teams had a flurry of chances in overtime. Boston peppered Mason in the first 30 seconds, leading to a Columbus timeout. With just over a minute left, Columbus' Antoine Vermette and Jan Hejda were hammering away around the goal-mouth, but Rask didn't budge.

Tied 1-1 midway through the third period, Rask seemed to overplay a scoring chance by R.J. Umberger, sliding far out of his crease. The puck came to Upshall, who slotted it home for his 20th, extending his career high. The goal was his fourth in eight games since being acquired by Columbus at the trade deadline.

"It was a game that was right there for us to get," Upshall said. "I thought we did a lot of great things."

Looking to capitalize on a power play moments later, Derick Brassard gave the puck away just inside the attacking zone. Peverly charged down the ice, turned defenseman Fedor Tyutin inside out, and stuffed the puck between Mason's legs 2 minutes after Upshall's goal.

Right off the ensuing center-ice faceoff, Columbus cut in and Antoine Vermette rung a shot off the right post on a quick pass from Upshall.

In an up-tempo first two periods, Clitsome converted a slap shot through traffic with under a minute left.

Krejci pulled the Bruins even at 12:20 of the second, deflecting a blast from Chara, who was mildy booed throughout the game. Last week, Chara's controversial hit on Montreal's Max Pacioretty sidelined the forward with a fractured vertebrae and severe concussion.

"Both teams had their opportunities and obviously they got the better of us in the shootout," Mason said.

Notes: The Bruins' all-time franchise record is 2,800-1,722-791-99 . . . Boston improved to 2-5 in shootouts, while Columbus dropped to 4-6 . . . Boston's Mark Recchi, the active leader in games, assists and points, moved past Dave Andreychuk into fifth place on the NHL's all-time games played list . . . The Bruins are 7-7-2 this season against the Western Conference. Columbus is 10-2-2 against the East . . . Boston's Patrice Bergeron, third on the team in scoring, has been held without a point in seven straight games, a season high . . . Nash has not scored in eight games, one short of his longest stretch without goal.

Tuesday, March 28: 1,000 games for Sabres' Gionta

Tuesday, March 28: 1,000 games for Sabres' Gionta

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while forgetting that Nancy Kerrigan is on Dancing with the Stars.  

*Here’s the rundown on Brian Gionta celebrating his 1000th NHL game played with the Sabres on Monday night.

*Congrats to good guy Chad Johnson, who was appropriately given the “Good Guy Award” by the Calgary Flames media this week.

*Brock Boeser showed his abilities in a fantastic NHL debut after leaving the college ranks for the Canucks.

*I hope the fancy stats crowd is listening to this: The NHL playoff forecast is raining on the Corsi and fancy stats parade.

*Hope that Eddie Lack is okay after he had to be taken off the ice in a stretcher following a collision at the end of Carolina’s game.

*ESPN’s hockey crew breaks down some expansion mock drafts and have either Adam McQuaid, Jimmy Hayes or Malcolm Subban headed to the Vegas Golden Knights.

*The Benn brothers are gearing up for their first match-up against each other with the Canadiens and Stars set to meet.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jen Neale nails a Philly columnist for a hot take on USA Hockey and says the column illustrates just how much a change is needed there.

*The Winnipeg Jets have officially been eliminated from the playoffs, so now the Colorado Avalanche don’t have to feel so bad about themselves.

*For something completely different: One thing I’ve never wondered is what Tony Robbins thinks about politics.


 

'Healthy' Rask ready to go with a lot to prove

'Healthy' Rask ready to go with a lot to prove

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Tuukka Rask went through morning skate Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena and proclaimed himself “healthy” to start against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden after sitting out Saturday with a lower body injury.

So, Rask will play his 60th game of the season tonight and the Bruins will hope that a dominating performance will douse some of the brush fire that’s cropped up around the Black and Gold’s goaltending situation. 

After Boston’s No. 1 goaltender coughed up five goals in a rough loss to Tampa and then sat out the must-win against the Islanders on Saturday night, questions about Rask’s big-game reliability are absolutely there after he also sat out last season’s pivotal finale against the Ottawa Senators.

Still, Rask said he hasn’t paid attention to the media scrutiny and is instead looking forward to locking up against fellow Finn Pekka Rinne of the Preds.

“I haven’t listened to the [media scrutiny], but I’m sure they’ve been very nice to me,” said Rask. “I don’t listen. I don’t read it. Doesn’t affect me. You know where you stand, and how good you play and when you don’t play good. That’s all you need. You don’t need to listen to the outside voices because it’s just going to distract you. People have opinions and they can say whatever they want.

“This is what we play for, right? It’s fun. It’s going to come down to the wire again and it’s going to be another battle tonight. I don’t even know how many games I’ve played. I feel good. I think I’ve said all throughout the year there’s going to be ups and downs, and you just try to stay even-keeled. It’s something that you learn not getting too high or too low, and just win as many games as you can.”

The bottom line with Rask is that there are major question marks about his standing as a No. 1 goaltender that he needs to address in these final seven games, media scrutiny or no media scrutiny. A No. 1 goalie worth $7 million per season can hold up with a 60-plus game workload and not fade down the stretch while in need of mental and physical breaks. 

The slender Rask has shown signs of slippage in his performance when the workload is heavy, and coach Bruce Cassidy admitted as much on Tuesday while not guaranteeing that his No. 1 will be able to play in six of the final seven games down the stretch.

“We’re trying to write our own story this year. I know how the last few years have ended, and we’d like a different ending,” said Cassidy. “I think this group should be afforded that right to write their own stories, and we’ll see how it plays out. Obviously last week did not play out well for us and we heard about it, and that’s part of the business.

“Saturday, hopefully we turned a corner, but we won’t know that until we get going forward here. I’m asking [Tuukka] to play well tonight, and I’m asking the players in front of him to play well tonight. The workload for Tuukka has to be monitored, and whether the whole world agrees with it or not, that’s the situation. I think the data backs up that he’s better with ‘X’ amount of rest and that’s just the way it is. It’s an inexact science and we’re trying to do a better job with that. The second half we’ve really tried to monitor it and last week was a bit of an exception. At crunch time things change a little bit, and that’s what we’re trying to balance.”

In an ideal world, a hockey team scratching and clawing for the Stanley Cup playoffs wouldn’t have to so closely monitor whether a goaltender is about to break down because he’s pushing 60 games in a season, especially when he’d enjoyed a five-day bye just a month earlier.

There are also questions about Rask’s reliability after sitting out last weekend, whether it was by his choice, the team’s choice or a mutually agreed upon decision after his lower body discomfort cropped up. A No. 1 goalie is no longer worthy of that lofty mantle when a team can’t rely on big-game performances from him, or even if he'll be available, once the pressure is on in the final weeks of the season.

So, there are plenty of questions to answer for Rask down the stretch here and they may go a long way toward determining his long-range future with an organization that invested heavily in him a few years ago. Those answers begin on Tuesday night against the Predators and it certainly feels like it will be game-to-game with him for final seven contests of the regular season.